We had our annual gathering to ring in the new year, last night. We revisited a couple of traditions, and added in a couple of one-night-only rituals for the troubling year that was 2016, which included burning a cardboard effigy of 2016, and whacking a person dressed up as the evil spirit of 2016 with foam swords. My friends are kind of insane, but in a really good way.

Our longest-standing ritual is to write down things from the year that we wish to leave behind, and burn them in the fire pit. Last night had us commiserating over losses, struggles, and the bleak truths we've seen in our world. We stood around the fire as snow floated down around us, remembering that we have each other, as we consigned sadness to the flames.

This year, it took me a little while to think of things to burn, but I came up with:

  • Old Lady Back Problems - it's getting there, very slowly, but I want to get back to where I can do athletics and not have to think about it.

  • Anxiety and Fatigue - pretty self-explanatory, but after being sick twice in two weeks, I'm looking at some professional help for this.

  • Silencing Myself - I think that I internalized the idea, very early in life, that nobody is listening to what I say, except perhaps to judge or make fun of it. So, even now, I habitually stay pretty quiet. And there are times when I really shouldn't.

  • Racism and Bigotry - again, pretty self-explanatory.

A newer ritual is to reflect on the good things that happened, and stick it to the wall, so we can see and share in each other's good fortune. There are now new engagements, new homes, new jobs, new names, new experiences all over my dining room wall. People made strides towards the lives they wanted, even if those strides were difficult. 2016 was a hard year in a lot of ways, and it felt doubly important to treasure the good parts of it.

For me, I had a pretty good run. My faith was shaken in some parts of my life, but I found solid ground in other arenas. There were times when things seemed to click together in an almost uncanny way, as if they were meant to happen. I think the hardest part of this year, outside of the political/ideological sphere, has been actually internalizing the idea that no, not everything has to be a terrible struggle. I felt a lot of anxiety when I didn't have a reason to--I was waiting for a shoe to drop, when there wasn't a shoe there to begin with. The battle with anxiety is one that I still have to fight in this year to come, and likely in the years after that.

I don't necessarily expect better things from 2017. To do so would be naive. But, I still hope for it every day. I've heard it said that this coming year should be one about community, chosen family, blood family (if those relationships are healthy), and connection, and that's a mission I can wholeheartedly get on board with.

Happy new year, my dears. We've got this, together.


March 2017

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